Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cows of Bashan

Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to your husbands, “Bring us some drinks!” Amos 4:1 [NIV]

"Even if the cows of Bashan are the finest around, it is doubtful any woman would consider being compared to one a compliment! We must remember that Amos has been a herdsman, and he is familiar with these animals. Obviously, he sees something in the women of Israel that reminds him of them. Perhaps it is their size—all these women care about is filling their bellies. Perhaps it is their careless and callous attitudes.

Cattle are known to have a difficult time keeping within the bounds of their pasture, trampling anyone weaker and smaller who happens to get in their way. Or perhaps it is a combination of both. It seems these women have an unquenchable passion for pampering and pleasure, no matter what the cost, no matter who is in their way. This is completely unacceptable to a God who promises to satisfy those who help the needy (Isa 58:6-11)."

(General Editor Jean E. Syswerda, NIV Women of Faith Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Mischigan, 2001, pg 1494)

Bashan was a rich pastureland where the needs and wants of cattle were easily met. Possibly the prophet's comparison of the women to "cows" is a type that compares to those Isaiah mentioned who "trampled" the courts of the Temple.

"When you come to appear before Me, Who has required this from your hand, To trample My courts? Isaiah 1:12 NKJV

In that instance, the Israelites being addressed were comparable to beasts (of both sexes) in that they cared only for their personal comfort- i.e. eating and sleeping and procreating. Those things took precedence over their faithfulness in keeping covenants and treasuring up thoughts of their Creator.


  1. So much to think about here, Donna. Thank you.

    I liked how you linked this to Isaiah 1:12 and temple worship. Interestingly, we are asked in just the verse before (Isaiah 1:11) "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord..."

    He is asking us individually a very important question - what is our purpose in our own temple worship?

    He then provides the correct answer to His question right after in verse 12, first part, which reads "When you come to appear before Me".

    We can consider that any other purpose, attitude, or frame of mind while attending and worshipping the Lord in His house can be considered a form of trampling. It is a form or degree of disrespect or not keeping within the bounds that He has asked when it comes to worshipping Him - likening us back to the cattle who may have difficulty sticking within the boundaries of their pasture. We should have an eye single to Him, always.

  2. Wow, to Donna and Jen.

  3. Excellent post/comment.

    Considering that Christ is the bridegroom, the women the bride, this makes good sense that women would be referred to and likened to cows...women (as the bride) represents Israel, those with the temple covenants. This even applies to a cow, which has relation to an ox, the symbol of the tribe of Ephraim.